IF YOU ARE NOT YET A CHRISTIAN, ONE WHO BELIEVES IN, AND IS DEVOTED TO JESUS CHRIST, I URGE YOU TO PARK RIGHT HERE ON THIS PAGE. THE MESSAGE ON THIS PAGE, "THE GOSPEL," CAN BE ESPECIALLY BENEFICIAL TO YOU. I URGE YOU TO READ IT SLOWLY AND CAREFULLY.
We have all heard people refer to "The Gospel." What do they mean? "The Gospel" is the central message of the Bible. Actually, although it may take a person a long time to reach this realization, Jesus Christ is the central topic of the Bible. The Bible is about Jesus. From the beginning, Genesis, the Bible begins to "lead up to" Jesus coming to earth. Every book in the Bible "prophesies" of his coming and teaches things about him. And then, in the New Testament, he is here. But there is an infinite number of things that one can learn about Jesus, such as his miracles or his teachings on love. What is the most urgent? What is the most essential knowledge we must have about Jesus?
That is what "The Gospel" is. It is the very heart of what you need to know about Jesus. It is the crucial message. It is about YOU making a personal "connect" with Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
HERE IS THE GOSPEL:
Jesus was born in a Jewish family in Israel, and he was raised in the Jewish community. In his day, the Jewish people had a temple in Jerusalem, and they performed animal sacrifices there, following the teachings of Moses. Every Jew in the days of Jesus was accustomed to bringing a sacrificial animal to the altar at Jerusalem. When a man had sinned, he would bring the animal that was to bear the man's punishment. The man would lay his hand on the head of the animal and confess his sins, and the sins were then seen as transferred to the animal. Then the animal was killed, and its blood was poured out. The Old Testament, the Jewish Bible, has a verse which has God saying to the Israelites, "the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul," Leviticus 17:11. Also, every Jew kept the Feast of Passover every year, in which a LAMB was killed. This annual feast commemorated the very first Passover, when their ancestors had been slaves in Egypt. The night of their liberation, God told every family to kill a LAMB and to mark their houses with its BLOOD. God told them that because of the BLOOD, they would be saved from the plagues of destruction that were passing through all of Egypt. The destruction "passed over" ONLY those who were sheltered under THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB. Every Jew in Jesus' day knew all of these things by heart. They were at the very heart of their religion.
One of the contemporaries of Jesus, a religious leader that lived at the same time as he, was a man named John. The people of Israel considered John to be a great prophet, a holy man. We know him as "John the Baptist." Almost the whole nation of Israel had turned out to go hear this mighty orator preach about God. The masses were not yet familiar with Jesus. He had not come on the public scene yet. One day when a vast multitude was assembled watching the Prophet John the Baptist preach and baptize, John looked up and saw Jesus standing, not far away. John lifted his mighty voice and thundered an electrifying announcement to the multitude. Pointing at Jesus, he said, "BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD THAT TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD!" Jn 1:29, 39. Every Jew present understood the way that a lamb would "take away sins." That lamb must be KILLED! Its BLOOD must be shed! "for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul." This multitude now gazes dumbfounded over at Jesus. What can John possibly mean? How can this man die an atoning death ? Can he be put on the great altar at Jerusalem and be killed as a sacrificial lamb?
It was indeed a puzzling proclamation for the Prophet to make. But this is really the core message of the New Testament. It teaches that Jesus was sent into this world to die as a sacrificial lamb. It teaches that God loved the world so much, loved you and me so much, that He provided a way for all of our sins and errors and imperfections to be "taken away" so that we can each have a fresh start. It teaches that God took my sin and yours, and the sins of the whole world, and laid them on the sacrificial lamb, Jesus, as he was crucified on the cross, and that Jesus took, in his own body, all of the judgment, penalty, and punishment, that must be visited upon sin. In other words, Jesus was punished for my sins. He suffered in my place. He took the wrath of God that I had coming. My sins were transfered out of me, and transfered to Jesus on the cross. This "transfer" clears me. It makes me "not guilty" before God. I am set free from the issue of being a sinner, who was by nature in a "clash" with God who is holy, pure and perfect. My sins being taken off me and transfered to Jesus, sets me free to enjoy full friendship with Almighty God, full fellowship with Him, full communion and union with Him! I am clean! I am blameless! God is free likewise to fully accept me and lavish His love on me, because sin has been dealt with. I did not have to do it myself. I did not "earn" it. I did not have to work at it and get "good enough" to be accepted by God. In His great love He took care of it all, Himself! He made the way possible. He provided the rescue. That is what the New Testament teaches. It says that because Jesus himself was sinless, righteous, that his death was for our sins and not for his own, and the death he died was for our sakes, God raised him back to life after he died. That is what the big holiday called by some "Easter" is supposedly commemorating every year. It is celebrating the day that Jesus rose from the dead, came back to life, after having "taken away" our sins. The New Testament teaches that Jesus was "resurrected," came back to life. Not as a ghost. Not as a spirit being. Not as some kind of angel. No. It says the very same body that was crucified, that had nails driven through the hands and feet, the very same physical body that suffered and died that horrible death, came back to life, stood up, and walked out of the tomb. Jesus appeared bodily, physically, to hundreds of witnesses, and let them handle him, examine the holes in his hands and feet, and prove to themselves that Jesus was literally back. That is what the New Testament teaches. Jesus arose victorious over death. And, he never died again. With witnesses watching it all happen, Jesus bodily ascended up into the heavenly spiritual world. They watched him leave this world and go into that world. Thus the New Testament teaches that the very same Jesus is alive right now. Literally. He is a living Saviour.
THAT is The Gospel.
So, what am I supposed to do? The message of the New Testament is that God wants the word spread to every human being, that this Salvation is available. Upon hearing that Jesus died for our sins, to take those sins away, and to save us from the penalty for sins, and that he rose from the dead, every individual is supposed to believe the message, put their faith in Jesus Christ, and embrace him as their personal Saviour. The Bible teaches that God is looking within your heart, to see you put faith, living active vital faith, in Jesus and his work of Salvation on your behalf. That living active faith in Jesus is the channel, the avenue, the "connector" if you will, between you and the "message." The Bible says you are "saved by faith in Christ Jesus." If you have never made that "connect" yourself, here is what to do: Right now, get ready to pray. Look in your own heart. Be aware of what you are thinking and BELIEVING. Throw away anything that clutters your thoughts. Turn off any "noise." Clearly focus on BELIEF in the fact that Jesus took your sins upon himself on the cross, and died under those sins; BELIEF, FAITH, that he is your personal Saviour, your rescuer; undoubting BELIEF that those sins are taken away from you, which leaves you clean; and BELIEF that after Jesus died, he literally arose back to life, and now lives. It is belief not only in the Gospel, the message of what he has DONE for us, but it is distinctly belief in, faith in, HIM, his person. HE is the Saviour. Your faith is distinctly in HIM. With these things clear in your heart, talk to God, and declare them. Pray to God and tell Him you are embracing that message of Salvation. You are embracing Jesus as your rescuer, your Saviour. Talk to God out loud. Prayer does not need to sound somber and religious and ceremonial. It does not need candles and incense. Just talk to God out loud and tell Him you want these things. Tell Him you BELIEVE in his Son, Jesus. The HEART of this matter is FAITH IN JESUS. BELIEVE IN HIM, TRUST HIM, RELY ON HIM, HAVE FULL CONFIDENCE IN HIM that He is saving you. Thank God for sending Jesus as the Lamb that takes away sin. Thank Him for saving you. Ask Him to help you always cling to Jesus in faith, and to more and more make these things your personal possession. The opposite of "faith" is "unbelief," or "doubts" or uncertainties. The Bible says that it is FAITH in Jesus that God asks of you. So consciously make THAT your "role" in the matter, BELIEVING in Jesus, having no doubts or hesitations. Decide that, forever, you believe in the Son of God. Ask God to help you make Jesus the very core and CENTER of your life. That FAITH is your "connect" with God and Christ. "Saved by faith in Christ Jesus." This Salvation is such a marvelous gift from God. His message is a message of love, of peace, of reconciliation, of rescue, of help. It is a message of God caring deeply for your soul.
Because of FAITH in Jesus the Saviour, the first Christians were often simply called the "BELIEVERS." Let that be your thought, "I am a BELIEVER. I trust in, rely on, have confidence in, Jesus Christ." As you go forward in your Christian life, let THAT be your constant heart rule, BELIEVING in Jesus for what you need in your Christian life. Believe in him to be the well from which you drink, believe in him be your supply. Have faith in him to enable you, to supply you, with strength for the Christian life. That's right: the power to live the Christian life daily, is supposed to flow from Jesus, into you. And so, FAITH in Jesus is to be constant and continual.
Something else to know: The Bible portrays God's salvation and our believing in Jesus as a message of LOVE. Firstly because God loved us so much that he gave His Son to die for us, to reconcile us, to bring us to Himself. Such wondrous LOVE! And when Christians meditate on this great salvation it causes us to love the Lord in response. Let your FAITH in him be characterized by LOVE to him. Trust him and LOVE him. This is the Christian's response to the Lord. LOVE.
That is the Gospel, the Good News of Salvation. It is basically the proclamation of Christ's substitutionary death on the cross, and his resurrection from the dead, and that now we make a "connect" to God through these, his provisions, by faith in Jesus Christ.
A few tips:
BIBLE READING: Of course you know that all of these things are found in the Bible. If you don't yet have a Bible of your own, get one. It is a big book, as you know, comprised actually of sixty-six books in one binding. However, there are several "books" in it which can most readily teach you on these things (the Gospel message and faith in Jesus) and help you to be strengthened in them: I recommend that you read these books in the New Testament first, as soon as you are able:
The fourth "Gospel" book, the "Gospel of John" (called "the Gospel According to St. John").
"1st John" (called "the First Epistle General of John") located near the back of the New Testament, near the Book of Revelation.
The book of "Romans" ("the Epistle of Paul to the Romans").
"Galatians" ("the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians").
"Ephesians" ("the Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians").
"1st Peter" ("the First Epistle General of Peter").
In your reading of those six books, you might want to keep handy the message of Paul outlining the Gospel Message in 1st Corinthians chapter 15, and "anchor" all of your reading to it:
In 1st Corinthians 15 the Apostle Paul wrote, "I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, ... how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he arose again the third day according to the scriptures: and that he was seen of ... the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; ... And last of all he was seen of me also." 1 Corinthians 15:1-8.
Do you see it? THIS is what Paul says the "Gospel" is. He says he is presently declaring it in writing, and he says he preached it to them before, and he declares this to be "the Gospel," that, Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again, and that all of that was before witnesses.
Religious people come up with all kinds of things that they say are "the Gospel." One says it is the "whole Christian message" including godly living, and all of our "theology," the whole Bible, with the Israelites crossing the Red Sea, etc, etc, etc. They are not "wrong" per se, for the Gospel in its fullness is vast, but they do not have their FOCUS at the "epicenter" of it. And that's what we have Paul giving us in 1 Cor. 15. The "core" of the Saving Gospel is that Jesus died for us and rose again. In telling THAT message, he says, "I declare unto you the Gospel." Keep your focus there, and "anchor" all the rest that the Gospel may entail, to that, and your "Gospel" will be solid and sound.
As you read through those six New Testament books, distinctly look for those things that speak concerning THAT, and the Gospel Message you hold will be augmented and fortified.
PRAY: Above you read about continual faith in Jesus and love to him. Prayer is your channel of continual communication with the Lord. In its most basic meaning, "prayer" is just "talking to God." Get in the habit of "talking to God" out loud every single day of your life. It can be the most simple and basic expression; you might just thank him for saving you from your sins, or ask him to help you to follow him faithfully. But the important thing is that you do pray. Keep your communications with the Lord flowing. Become a person of constant prayer.
TELL OTHERS: Jesus himself taught us to tell others about our belief in him. We learn from many Bible verses, in example, Luke 12:8 and Mark 16:15, that Christians are not only to tell others that we believe in Jesus, but, we are to preach the Gospel to all the world, preach it to every single human being. What can you do in thanks to the Lord for saving you? Spread the Gospel, because the Lord desires that vast multitudes come to faith in him. He tells us to share the Gospel Message with the whole world. You may ask, "Does that mean I must become a "preacher" who stands up and "preaches" to crowds?" God does "call" some people to share the Gospel that way. But even if he has not called you to do it that way, or at least has not "yet" shown you to do it that way, still, EVERY single Christian should look for ways to fulfill the Lord's desire to get the Gospel Message to all of humanity.
If you give it a little thought, you'll realize that "opportunities" and easy "ways" of spreading the Gospel are all around you: One is at this moment right under your nose. Your being here in this GOSPEL WEB PAGE, if you "clicked" or "surfed" your way to it, indicate that you've got "Internet" capabilities. Well, the Internet can be a great way to serve the Lord by spreading the Gospel. You could take the URL (web address) of this page, and email it to friends or even strangers who you think ought to hear the Gospel Message, and urge them to visit this page. You could copy and paste it, copy the whole Gospel Message above on this page and send it in emails to people. To who? Well, anyone. You could send it to your own best friend, or you could send it to the Governor of Idaho, or to the Mayor of your own town, and say, "Thought you'd enjoy reading this." You could print out the Gospel on this page, and make re-prints or photocopies of it, and hand it to people you meet. You are WELCOME to copy this Gospel page, reprint it, re-word it your own way, and use it as your own. I have been in a grocery store checkout, and when I'm about to leave, I've said "Thank you very much. May I give you something to brighten your day?" and I'll hand the clerk a Gospel tract and be on my way. Today there are countless ways to spread the Gospel to humanity. Texting, Twittering, Emailing, and online chats and forums. If you use FaceBook, or MySpace, put the Gospel there. Some people have even videoed themselves PREACHING it, and put it in YouTube! Learn how to TELL people the Gospel verbally. Review and learn the main points of the Gospel above, that Jesus shed his blood and died on the Cross for our sins, that he was buried and rose again from the dead, and is alive today, a living Saviour. TELL that Gospel to people. The point is, every believer in Jesus should be interested in spreading the Gospel, the Good News, all over the world. And in our day it is easy to do.
Be a person who loves and spreads the Gospel of Jesus Christ.